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Canter Against Cancer Benefit to honor local hero

GREATER SPRINGFIELD A star-studded cast of contributors have joined in support of the Dr. Jerri Nielsen-FitzGerald Canter Against Cancer Benefit Trail Ride and Pig Roast next month. The benefit is in honor of Nielsen, who succumbed to brain cancer in June. The event will take place at the Kaniecki family's Twin Orchard Farm in Southampton. Adding a celebrity cachet to an already exciting array of awards, raffle prizes and sponsorship around the benefit event will raise funds for the medical scholarship launched in the late Nielsen-FitzGerald's name at her alma mater, the University of Toledo. The scholarship will encourage graduates to start their medical careers in family practice or Emergency Room service in rural areas. The benefit trail ride, slated for Oct. 3 (rain date Oct. 10), will take place over 140 acres of groomed and themed trails on a fourth-generation New England farm, and will include hay wagon rides for those not riding their own horses, as well as special awards, and a slew of raffle prizes. Headlining the cast of contributors is British rock musician and equestrian artist Caspar McCloud, who starred on Broadway as John Lennon in "Beatlemania," and has contributed a signed and numbered fine art print from his Florida Cracker History series, "The Trial of Bone Mizell." "Caspar not only makes music with a guitar but with a paint brush," Bart Lindstrom of the Artist Portrait Society of America said. "His love of horses is evident in his exquisite paintings that capture every nuance." McCloud, who has been painting professionally since 1977, bases his studio in Atlanta, Ga., and his work has been exhibited in galleries throughout the United States and United Kingdom. Other art pieces donated to the raffle include watercolors by Laurie Hiers, and an illustrated dog story by Mollie Eckelberry of Vest Pocket Farm. Also showing her generous support is the star of the RFD-TV Horsemaster Series, Julie Goodnight, who had donated an autographed 8x10 and DVDs from season one of "The Colorado Episodes." The family of Oscar-winning actress, Susan Sarandon, who portrayed Nielsen-FitzGerald in the television movie about her life-altering experience battling breast cancer while based at an Antarctic research station, will also demonstrate their support. "Susan's birthday, coincidentally, is the same weekend as the event. She will want to honor her memory, and Jerri's courage in the face of cancer," a member of the Hollywood activist's family, said. John Collett of eZall Technologies, which already donates a portion of sales to support breast cancer awareness, has given several cases of eZall Pink Foamer Total Body Wash and eZall Shine and Detangler. Collett's wife is an alumna of University of Toledo. Among the event's honored guests will be Andrew Nyberg, one of the University of Toledo students responsible for launching the scholarship in the late doctor's name. "I am looking forward to coming to Massachusetts for the Canter Against Cancer event," Nyberg said. "It really means a lot to those of us at the University of Toledo, who put so much work into making an award for Dr. Nielsen, that people are interested in remembering and honoring her." L.A. Pomeroy, one of the benefit organizers, said, "We have been overwhelmed by the national and local support for Jerri. Since Jerri was a recipient, as a youth, of a Rotary International scholarship, I'm also pleased to announce that we will have the support and manpower of Rotary members for this event, including the Southwick chapter, which includes many of her friends and neighbors." Early registration is encouraged but will be accepted up to the morning of the ride, with registration tables at Twin Orchard Farm opening at 7 a.m. before ride-out at 10 a.m. Lunch, awards and raffle drawings will take place mid-afternoon. For more information about the Nielsen-FitzGerald Canter Against Cancer, please contact Pomeroy at PomeroyLA@aol.com or 586-6121 or visit the Nielsen-FitzGerald Canter Against Cancer on Facebook, under Causes.

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